eIF2B-catalyzed nucleotide exchange and phosphoregulation by the integrated stress response

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Science  03 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6439, pp. 491-495
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw2922

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Integrated stress response on the brain

During translation, regulation of protein synthesis by phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2) is a common consequence of diverse stress stimuli, which leads to reprogramming of gene expression. This process, known as the integrated stress response, is one of the most fundamental mechanisms of translational control conserved throughout eukaryotes. It is also a promising therapeutic target in neurodegenerative diseases and traumatic brain injury. Kashiwagi et al. report the cryo–electron microscopy and crystal structures and Kenner et al. report the cryo–electron microscopy structure of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor eIF2B in complex with eIF2 or phosphorylated eIF2. The structures of the eIF2•eIF2B complex reveal that the single phosphorylation modification on eIF2 changes how eIF2 binds to eIF2B and locks this enzyme into an inhibited complex.

Science, this issue p. 495, p. 491


The integrated stress response (ISR) tunes the rate of protein synthesis. Control is exerted by phosphorylation of the general translation initiation factor eIF2. eIF2 is a guanosine triphosphatase that becomes activated by eIF2B, a two-fold symmetric and heterodecameric complex that functions as eIF2’s dedicated nucleotide exchange factor. Phosphorylation converts eIF2 from a substrate into an inhibitor of eIF2B. We report cryo–electron microscopy structures of eIF2 bound to eIF2B in the dephosphorylated state. The structures reveal that the eIF2B decamer is a static platform upon which one or two flexible eIF2 trimers bind and align with eIF2B’s bipartite catalytic centers to catalyze nucleotide exchange. Phosphorylation refolds eIF2α, allowing it to contact eIF2B at a different interface and, we surmise, thereby sequestering it into a nonproductive complex.

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